The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Courageous Coward: Pleasing God When You’re Afraid

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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

Suppose God calls you to serve Him in a way that will involve some very upsetting extras. In your heart, you want to obey and you tell God you will follow Him anywhere because He is your King. But here is where you must remember that you are a spirit being who is traveling about in an earthsuit that has a mind of its own. Your earthsuit doesn’t care about pleasing God—it only cares about protecting and pleasing itself. Your earthsuit is going to adamantly oppose any assignment which puts it at risk of physical injury, emotional stress, or relational conflicts. So while you can be courageously dedicated to God inside, your earthsuit is going to be a sniveling coward and it will try to do anything it can to sabotage the mission. Rocks in your stomach, watery knees, taut nerves, sleepless nights—your earthsuit is going to throw the equivalent of a two-year-old’s tantrum to try and get you to change course. These are very smart bodies that God gave us. They are rather like those computerized machines we see in the movies that lock up the controls when they sense danger and ban the humans from overriding their safety systems. Your earthsuit has no use for pleasing God. Your earthsuit doesn’t care about God. It is an unregenerate, selfish mess that is only going to care about itself until the day that God ejects you from it.

Faith is a spirit thing, not a flesh thing. Pleasing God is something you do, not something your earthsuit does. You must keep this straight in your mind for Satan is going to try very hard to get you to think you have to please God with your soul and your earthsuit. Satan wants you to judge your spiritual success by the behavior of your earthsuit, and he will try to tell you that until your suit is singing and dancing about this tough assignment God has dropped on you, you’re not really committed. Satan will try to tell you that it’s impossible to really please God as long as you’re busy thinking about yourself. But of course Satan is always trying to tell you that God requires the impossible from you, and he knows that you can’t change your earthsuit’s priorities. Unless God comes through with some Divine empowerment that temporarily forces your earthsuit to align with the agenda of your soul, your earthsuit can be counted on to throw a hissy fit whenever it sees you driving it into a situation that it doesn’t want to be in. Your earthsuit cares about your earthsuit, and that’s never going to change. Your earthsuit expresses its selfishness in such dramatic, distracting ways that it’s very easy for Satan to slither in and tell you that your soul is as self-focused as your earthsuit is, therefore God is irritated with your lack of devotion to Him. Don’t let a demon be your spiritual counselor in life.

Whenever you say yes to God, you greatly please Him. When God brought up the subject of this difficult assignment, He wasn’t talking to your earthsuit, He was talking to you—the spirit being inside the suit. God doesn’t have a relationship with your earthsuit. Your earthsuit is not His dearly loved creation. Your earthsuit is not the one He died for—you are. As far as God is concerned, your earthsuit doesn’t get any say in your relationship with Him. If you say “Yes, Lord, I’ll do what You want,” and your earthsuit screams, “Not in a million years!”, God is very pleased because you are obeying Him.

There is nothing your earthsuit can do to cause friction between you and God unless you start forgetting that your earthsuit is not you. But if Satan can get you to blur that line—which he will try very hard to do—well, then you’ll feel your earthsuit freaking out and you’ll start fretting that your devotion to God is just a sham. This is when you’ll start asking questions like, “If I’m as committed as I thought I was, why am I acting like such a wimp?” Let’s be clear: all earthsuits are wimps. Earthsuits say no to anything that endangers them. Now some suits come equipped with high pain tolerances and adrenaline addictions which cause them to find it fun to do things like skydive and bungee jump. But every earthsuit has panic buttons. When those buttons are pushed, we all start acting like sniveling cowards.

Trying to charge into battle with a panicking earthsuit is like trying to run a race with a block of cement strapped to your back. Is it easier to concentrate in a quiet room or in a room filled with screaming children? If you hang out with Christians who are operating inside of calm earthsuits while yours is going spastic, you’re going to feel like a total wimp compared to them. And when they look at you and see the panic on your face, they’ll feel rather superior by comparison and out will come condescending remarks like, “Where is your faith?” and “Don’t you trust God?” Well, yes, you do trust God, and the problem with this scenario is that everyone is judging everyone else by the state of their earthsuits. God isn’t judging any of you by how calm your suits are. He is looking at the souls inside, and when He sees that your soul sincerely desires to please Him, He is very pleased with you.

Let’s talk about some of these Christian one liners that we like to toss around.

“Let go and let God. You just have to rest in His strength.”

The problem with this little ditty is that when we hear the term “rest”, we are back to thinking about the state of our earthsuits. We think that a soul who is resting in God will look rested on the outside. Not necessarily. It’s quite possible for your soul to be clinging to God while your earthsuit is having a nervous breakdown. It’s quite possible for you to be exercising rock solid trust while your earthsuit is shaking like a leaf. You can’t “let go” of your earthsuit—you’re stuck inside of it. The best you can do is try to focus on the fact that your flesh does not define you and keep remembering what your bottom line with God is. But again, such activities often require the ability to focus your mind, and your physical brain is part of your earthsuit. When your earthsuit is mad at the choices you’re making, is it going to sit around helping you think about how wonderful God is? No, it’s going to side with demons against you and insist that God is a big Bully for putting you through such a hard time. When God sees your flesh hating Him, does He think that you hate Him as well? No. God never confuses you with your earthsuit.

“You just have to have faith as small as a mustard seed.”

When you know that you sincerely care about God, why would you go dipping into the Bible and pulling out passages that Jesus said to people who He was annoyed with? In the Gospels, you don’t find Jesus hanging around a bunch of hardcore believers. You find Him making the best out of what there was, and what there was often got on His nerves. Sure, we like to rave about the great faith of the disciples, but an honest look at the text will reveal that Jesus is often quite irritated with them. Since we know that God responds to the heart, we can only conclude that His boys weren’t as far along as we like to pretend.

When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. I brought him to Your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

“You unbelieving and perverse generation!” Jesus replied, “How long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to Me.” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matt. 17:14-21)

If you sincerely care about pleasing God in your heart, He is pleased with you. When God is pleased with you, He doesn’t roll His eyes and say things like, “Good grief, how long do I have to put up with you clowns?! If you had even a micron of faith you could do great things, but noooo, you can’t even scrape up that much trust in Me, can you?!”

Don’t even go down the road of fretting over the size of your faith. And stop trying to measure your status with God by the reactions of your earthsuit because your earthsuit has nothing to do with you and God. you please God by sincerely wanting Him to have His way in your life. God is not grading you down because your earthsuit is melting into a puddle of fear. On the contrary, God knows what a burden your earthsuit is being on your soul and He is all the more pleased by your soul’s dogged determination to want to please Him in the midst of a caustic environment. After all, isn’t it much harder for a man to stay on course when his close friends are constantly trying to discourage him? By now you’ve figured out that life on earth is a lot more pleasant when your earthsuit is happy, so it’s hard not to give in to its demands. With your earthsuit complaining 24/7 about the direction God is sending you in, it’s very hard to keep a grip on your priorities. But are you trying to keep a grip? God sees you trying and He is very pleased with you.

God is very easy to please and He is very easy to succeed with. The key for you is to remember that God is judging you, not your suit. You also need to remember that God is a fair and gracious Judge who takes all factors into account when evaluating your soul’s response to Him. The Christian who drags himself down the road of obedience with flesh that is kicking and screaming all the way is giving God a totally different gift than the Christian who goes skipping along with miraculous empowerment. God is going to reward these two souls quite differently. The first soul gave God much more, yet on the outside he looked far less committed than the second soul. The first soul will have a greater reward from God, while other Christians on earth will brush him off as weak in faith because he acted like such a coward the whole time. This is how it is down here: everyone is judging each other by their earthsuits and drawing all kinds of wrong conclusions. But God judges us by how we responded to Him from inside our troublesome suits, and if He sees that we sincerely want to please Him, then He is very pleased with us.

Now will there be times when our flesh overwhelms us and we’re left paralyzed with fear and unable to move forward? Yes. But will God ever doubt our love for Him because of the way our flesh reacts to His commands? No. God knows how you feel about Him. He knows how important He is to you, and when He sees you wishing you could give Him more than you’ve got, He gives you credit for actually giving Him all of those things. Desiring to please God—this is the best we can do. We can’t override our earthsuits and turn our desires into actions without His help. All we can do is want to please Him—but that want to is everything. It is the difference between Heaven and Hell, between greatly blessing our King and displeasing Him. When we sincerely say in our hearts, “Make me all that You want me to be,” then we can know that He will. Nothing pleases God more than souls who are fully surrendered to Him, and those souls come in a wide variety of earthsuits.

FURTHER READING:
Confronting Your Convictions

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